Our next WF Author Interview is with Jack L. Pyke, or better known to WF members as Aquilo.
Jack, please tell us a little about yourself including interests and hobbies
I come from a small village in Staffordshire, England, but despite its size, it’s had its share of murders, strange sightings, and stranger sexual exploits. There’s a lot of bad history here, but also the good. It always amazes me how two-toned our forest can be. During the day I can take the kids for a walk and visit the nearest Fairy village that’s carved into the trees, and then there’s that darker side with its history and what goes down after dark. It’s the same with most rural homes people grow up in, no doubt, but the forest surrounds us here, and there’s no escaping the vampire-cloak hold. Well, not for someone who gets lost going out the backdoor! So mostly I love those summer woodland treks with the kids and my husband, and soaking up its history, good and bad.
I understand you are part of the Society of Masters, working on a shared-world project with author Lynn Kelling. This sounds intriguing! Please can you tell us more about this?
Ever wish you could borrow another author’s characters and use them in your own novel? Or an author would fall for one of your characters and ask to borrow them to use in one of theirs? That’s pretty much what the shared-world is about.
Lynn Kelling and I both write contemporary BDSM, although mine also has the psychological thriller sub-genre. We also work with the same publisher, and it was their idea to get us testing the waters with borrowing each other’s characters and blending both worlds together. This means my Don’t… series characters exist in Lynn’s world, and herDeliver Us series characters exist in mine. We both write our novels independently, but always check back that we’re happy with how our characters are being used by the other author.
It’s damn scary handling another author’s characters, especially as Lynn already has a very firm fan base of her own with her Deliver Us series, as do I with mine, so it’s not only Lynn’s wishes that need respecting, but also the hordes of fans I know who constantly line up to dissect the shared-world and see if it works properly. And they come with sharp tools to throw if we get it wrong!
What was the inspiration behind your latest book, Backlash. What is the book about?
Backlash is the fourth novel in the Don’t… series and is also part of the Society of Masters. All four of my novels are BDSM psychological thrillers and follow Jack Harrison, a garage owner and BDSM switch (both a Dom and a sub), and his dark relationship with an MI5 counter-terrorist operative. Jack’s a sociopath in his own right, who suffers with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). When life hits him hard, there’s a secondary character who comes into play to take care of Jack: Martin. Only Martin’s a known psychopath and will get bloody with his game-play. So the series centers around how Jack’s sociopath/psychopathic sides push and drive the counter-terrorist’s own sadistic nature. They should all be sectioned rather than form a relationship together, and the series follows just how dark they go in the relationship and all the mind-games that break everyone down, especially when soft-souled Jan Richards, a financial consultant, sees them form a controversial triad.
Backlash deals with the aftermath of their relationship and sees the counter-terrorist operative and Lynn’s characters (Dare, Trace, and Gabe) having to break Jack down, all in order to get Martin to work with my MI5 op. The man responsible for funding Jack’s and Jan’s brutal psychological reconditioning is back on the scene, and Martin knows why.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I’ll hold my hands up here and admit that I had no interest in writing at all as a kid. Staying in school and turning up for lessons was penance enough for me, but at fifteen, on the radar with Social Services, it pretty much saw I hated most things about life back then. Not just that, but I read horror mostly and the thought of picking up a romance novel, unless rats gnawed on someone in the first few pages, would send me running. After I took my hons degree in linguistics and spent time later working as an editor for publishing companies, Adrienne Wilder pretty much battered me into shape and opened my eyes to the darker sub-genres at play in romance: all the thrillers, horror, steampunk, crime, political intrigue… and since then I’ve never looked back.
Is there a genre that you would not attempt to write?
Historical. It’s not something I edit or write. It’s just not my taste.
What social media platforms do you use to promote your work?
Facebook mostly. I’ve just signed up to Twitter, and I’m struggling to find out how it works. Goodreads I use purely for my own reading and reviewing the novels I read, so there’s not much talk about my writing on there.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
If I commit any plot on paper, it ties me to it. So I just keep a rough idea in the back of my mind and run with that. It’s rare I forget something, and if I do I chalk it down to how it wasn’t meant to be written in the first place. So pantsterish?
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
It’s never certain, to be honest. I’ve seen a few big publishers close in my genre: Samhain Publishing, Aspen Mountain Press etc, and also struggle in general for whatever reason. There’s also been some big-named authors who, once they’ve established their name with readers via a publishing house, they’ll self-publish. With the hard push from Amazon and the charges they keep applying to publishers, I think a lot more authors will self-pub. That doesn’t mean small publishers will suffer, because there’s always new authors coming through who will want the trade route and the established readership that comes with them. To wider readership, established authors will also keep moving from publisher to publisher in order to tap into new readerships. So I think publishing in general will continue to offer a mixed gift bag of channels to get work out there.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, also The Brothers LaFon, by Joseph Lance Tonlet. I really, really like my reads showing the worst sides to man.
If you were a castaway on a desert island and could choose five books to be a washed ashore with you, what would they be?
Tough choices… hmm…. Clockwork Orange (by Burgess), The Brothers LaFon, (Joseph Lance Tonlet) War of the Worlds (H.G. Wells) Lynn Kelling’s From Temptation, and any one of James Herbert’s… well, except Fluke.
What are you working on at the moment?
It’s pretty hectic at the moment. I’m on a rewrite of Lost in the Echo, which I’m just waiting for cover art for with my publisher. I’m also nearly done with a first draft on the 5thin the Don’t… series: Scars & Scapegoats (a title that WF’s Grand Fiction Challenge helped me choose, although whether the publisher changes the title is always there). There’s also the 6th novel in progress to the Don’t… series too. I’m also part-way through Provoked, and also arranging a 2nd novel to the
Broken Ink series.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write from the soul, no matter how old, dark, and troubled it may be.
Did you follow the traditional publishing route or did you self-publish?
I trade publish. It’s never an easy route and takes a lot of time and patience, but it’s worth it in the long run, especially if you’re a new author. You’re competing with so many new authors out there that having a good company behind you can help get your name out there in ways it’s hard for a self-published author to become known.
Do you think cover design plays an important part in the buying process? If so why?
Absolutely. And not just because it’s romance either. Cover art is a main part for hooking a reader who doesn’t know your style or content. Within the romance genre, give a reader a book cover with just a good-looking guy on it won’t cut it. It has to be to theme. Readers who stay by you demand quality in all areas. Skimp on it and they’ll not only notice, but they’ll leave you standing at the back of the queue. Rightly so.
Where and in which formats are your books available?
They’re available at most distribution places, in both paperback plus all e-formats: mobi, pdf, epub etc. E.g., Amazon: